Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs which develop on or within the surface of the ovaries. Afflicting a majority of women at some or the other point in their lifetime, most of these cysts are benign and cause little or no discomfort. As a matter of fact, a majority of cysts on the ovaries disappear with no treatment. However, 15% of the cysts may be malignant and can pose the risk of cancer. The cause of ovarian cysts is linked with the process of ovulation and the formation of the cyst-like structure, known as follicle in the ovary. Once the egg is mature, the follicle ruptures to release the egg. The follicle now changes into the small sac-like formation known as corpus luteum which disintegrates if there is no pregnancy. Ovarian cysts occur in situations where the follicle does not rupture or where follicular development into a corpus luteum is arrested.
Based on the reason for its growth, ovarian cysts can range from being completely harmless to life-threatening. Ovarian cysts can be classified into five common types:
Functional Cysts: Also referred to as simple cysts, functional cysts are benign cysts which are a part of the normal process of menstruation and ovulation in women. Most of the time, they disappear over the course of two to three periods.
Dermoid Cysts: Ovarian cysts which can develop mature skin complete with hair, teeth, and bone, are referred to as dermoid cysts or ovarian neoplasms. Developed from the ovary's germ cells, they may be present at birth, but are not noticed until adulthood.
Cystadenomas: These refer to the cysts that develop on the outside the ovary, causing pain if they are particularly large.
Endometriomas: These cysts gradually grow as a result of bleeding of the misplaced endometrial tissue after successive menstrual cycles.
Polycystic Ovaries: The polycystic cysts are filled with unreleased eggs that continue to grow. They are caused when the follicles do not erupt from the ovaries.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cysts
Ovarian cysts which are small and benign will disappear within 4 to 8 weeks, however, in cases where the cysts continually grow larger, the symptoms may be experienced for longer. The noticeable ovarian cysts' signs are:
- Pressure and pain in the abdomen
- An aching lower back and upper legs
- Tenderness of the breasts
- Painful sex
- Pressure and pain on the bladder and rectum
- Problems passing urine
- Gain in weight
- Irregularity of the menstrual cycles or abnormal uterine bleeding or spotting
- Nausea and vomiting
- Strange muscular pain in the ribs
- Development of nodules that feel like bruises, under the layer of skin
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.